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Pit Crew reaches plea deal with Fulton County over dog-bite quarantine case

WAUSEON, Ohio — After about 10 months, a legal stand-off between a local dog rescue and Fulton County officials in the county’s Western District Court is coming to an end.

The Lucas County Pit Crew, its executive director, Jean Keating, and volunteers Kevin Bauer and Andrea Walters last week agreed to a plea deal with Fulton County officials in a dog-bite related case where they faced misdemeanor charges.

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Bosco, right, was a Lucas County Pit Crew dog who was at the center of a bite case earlier this year. At left is McCaela, with whom Bosco has a close bond.

KEVIN JOHNSON Enlarge

The rescue agreed to plead no contest to a minor misdemeanor of violating a rabies quarantine in exchange for the dismissal of charges against Ms. Keating and the volunteers.

The rescue’s attorney, Kirsten Knight of Germantown, declined to comment, as did Ms. Keating.

The agreement has not yet been signed by visiting Judge Kevin Smith, but the organization will pay a $150 fine plus $78 in court costs, according to a court clerk.

“This agreement will avoid [the Pit Crew] having to pay any further legal fees and get back to spending our money on saving dogs,” the group’s board said in a Friday statement.

The case began in December after a Pit Crew dog named Bosco allegedly bit Matt Boughton of Wauseon, who had recently adopted the dog with his wife, Gwen. Mr. Boughton had a minor injury and received two stitches.

Ms. Walters retrieved the dog at the couple’s request, placing him in Mr. Bauer’s Pike Township home for quarantine. The rescue resisted authorities’ attempts to take Bosco to be quarantined at the county pound, but he was seized with a search warrant.

Ohio’s dog-bite law requires a mandatory 10-day rabies quarantine, during which the owners cannot transfer ownership of the dog to anyone but a county dog warden or other animal-control authority. The dog must also remain in the county where the bite occurred throughout the quarantine period.

Bosco — later designated as a dangerous dog — was released to the Pit Crew when the Boughtons signed him over after quarantine at the pound. The rescue, Ms. Keating, and the two volunteers were charged with violating a rabies quarantine and obstruction.

Bosco was adopted in late March by an Arizona couple. Jacque Johnson works for the Best Friends Animal Society and is an advocate for “pit bull”-type dogs.

“Bosco is the biggest clown in the entire world,” she said Friday. “He’s a great dog that some bad things have happened to.”

The dog can be excitable, but has shown no aggression in his permanent home, Ms. Johnson said. 

He has formed close bonds with her husband, Kevin, and McCaela, another Toledo “pit bull.” McCaela was rescued from dogfighting in 2013 and was one of the first former fighting dogs in Ohio to be granted a second chance at life.

“He and [McCaela] play all day every day,” Ms. Johnson said. “He’s a sweet little dog.”

The Johnsons post updates about Bosco on a Facebook page for him and their third dog, “Bubba G and Bosco.” McCaela also has a page, called “McCaela the Turtle.”

Contact Alexandra Mester: amester@theblade.com, 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @AlexMesterBlade.

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